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The red carotenoid giving tomatoes their colour. It's been found to be a powerful devourer of free radicals, stronger even than beta carotene or other carotenes - with strong anti-cancer properties.
A study done at the Aviono Cancer Centre in Italy found that people who eat raw tomatoes at least seven times a week cut their risk of bladder, colon and stomach cancers by half; while a Japanese study showed that lycopene suppressed the development of breast tumors in mice. This evidence is supported by a recent Harvard Unuversity study of various carotenoids which showed that increased consumption of lycopene significantly reduced the risk of prostate cancer in men.
Lycopene is actually richer in tomato sauce than in fresh tomatoes, and special breeds of tomato are being developed naturally to increase their lycopene content still further.
It's also a commonly-used colouring (E160d) in the food industry. See 'Beta Carotene'
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